Alliance says it won’t stay beyond 2018

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 20 Aug 2017, 22:22:27

Alliance says it won’t stay beyond 2018

Monira Munni

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety will not extend its tenure in Bangladesh after its expiry in mid-2018.

The platform of North America-based global apparel brands and companies on August 16 confirmed its plan to the apparel apex trade body -- BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association).

The disclosure came at a time when another platform -- Accord -- has initiated a move to extend its activities in the country for three more years.

About 25 brands and retailers including Adidas, H&M, C&A, Loblaw, Primark, Inditex and PVH and two global rights groups -- UNI Global Union and IndustriAll Global Union -- on June 29 last signed an agreement in Paris to extend the Accord's tenure for three more years until 2021. The tenure of Accord will also expire in mid-2018.

James F Moriarty, country director of Alliance in an email to BGMEA, said "We expect to complete our programme on schedule at the end of five years in country.  We may continue to work in country for a short period of time to ensure a smooth transition of our safety responsibilities to a Bangladesh-centered entity, but do not have any plans to stay on beyond the end of 2018."

Mahmud Hasan Khan, vice president of BGMEA, confirmed receipt of the mail.

Both Accord and Alliance were formed in 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 garment workers to improve workplace safety in the country's readymade garment sector.

Apparel makers in an extra general meeting held on August 01 last, however, strongly opposed and criticised the Accord's move to extend its tenure for three more years and some of its ongoing activities.

The Accord's new agreement puts greater emphasis on the rights of workers to organise and join a union recognising that workers' empowerment is fundamental to assuring workplace safety and also presents the possibility to expand the Accord's activities to sectors other than the ready-made garment industry.  

The BGMEA has also initiated a move to form a separate platform namely -- Sonman -- planned to be administered by the Prime Minister's Office to look into the post-2018 safety activities in the country's ready-made garment sector, industry insiders said.  

When asked, IndustriAll assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcrof told the FE, "We fully expect that most current Accord signatory companies will eventually sign the 2018 Accord. We are still in the process of disseminating it among the brands and explaining it to them and new signatures are coming in every day."

Support from the government is essential to its implementation; she said adding they have not yet had the opportunity to meet with the government to discuss how cooperation will take place.

She also mentioned that there is plenty of time as the new Accord does not come into effect until the expiry of the current Accord in May 2018.

Accord and Alliance have so far inspected fire, electrical and structural integrity in some 1600 and 700 garment factories respectively.

Some 77 per cent of the identified safety flaws were remediated in Accord-inspected factories as of April last while the rate is 81 per cent till date.

Alliance suspended relations with 157 supplier factories while Accord terminated 89 garment units due to failure to carry out the required remedial work.
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